Nurses and midwives vote overwhelmingly to strike amid row over pay

PATIENTS may face 24-hour strikes next month after over 40,000 nurses and midwives voted by a huge majority in favour of stoppages to get pay rises.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said 95pc of its members backed strike action in a ballot.

Its executive council will decide dates for a 24 hour national strike in which members would only provide emergency and lifesaving care next month.

The council will meet on January 7 and 8 to discuss the result and decide the next steps.

However, nurses will face penalties including a nine month delay to their pay rises and a freeze on their increments if they take industrial action.

The government has offered them a €20m pay package to address recruitment and retention issues – but these increases would only apply to specialised grades.

The nurses want equal pay with professional grades, including radiographers and physiotherapists.

Nurses are already in line for pay rises under the current public sector pay deal.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said Ireland’s nurses and midwives are speaking with one clear voice.

“This vote reflects a deep frustration in our professions, which the government cannot continue to ignore,” she said.

“Nurses and midwives simply want to do their jobs and care for patients properly. But low pay has led to staff shortages, compromising safe care.

“Ireland’s current haphazard approach to nurse staffing is costly and bad for patient care, as confirmed by the Minister for Health’s own nursing taskforce.”

This would be only the second time in the INMO’s hundred-year history that its members have taken national strike action.

Nurses and midwives last engaged in strike action two decades ago in 1999.

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